As we close out our study of the gospel according to Mark we are challenged and encouraged by the humiliation and and exaltation that takes place through Jesus death, burial, and resurrection.
Jesus’ teaching on purity and impurity were a shock and an outrage to the religious leaders and a source of confusion for the crowds and the disciples. After years of emphasis on the external traditions of ritual washings meant to guide God’s people in how to live out the holiness, the traditions had taken the place of Scripture and at some points, actually contradicting the commands of God. Jesus therefore brings the people back to the heart of the issue, that purity and impurity are determined by what is going on in the heart rather than by anything external.
There is a tendency to think that if we maintain a measure of familiarity with Jesus Christ that we are safe. We are safe because Jesus is a part of our lives so we are on good terms with him. We are safe because Jesus is at a safe distance in which we can control what we will listen to and what we will filter out when it comes to obedience and doing his will. However, Mark 6 tells a different story. It teaches that familiarity with Jesus is actually a very dangerous place to be. Instead, Jesus desires that we pursue dependence on him, because that is the only place in which we can find true intimacy with him.
Jesus fame is spreading and the crowds are growing larger and coming from greater distances. Yet, as the crowds grow Jesus uses it as an opportunity to plant the seeds for a new relationship that reorients the priority of family. Without undermining the importance of family Jesus illustrates how in Him, we evaluate our family relationships through the higher priority of our relationship with Jesus and His body, the church.
As Jesus continues His ministry the conflict with the religious leaders of Israel grows. As this conflict grows it reveals Jesus’ commitment to people and meeting their greatest need. For Jesus, people matter, their needs matter, and their greatest need matters most to Him. In the face of opposition from the religious elite Jesus message is loud and clear, the priority of human need outweighs the need for human conformity to religious ritual.